The history of the MRTC Winter Series goes all the way back to 1998 with Stan & Lauren Hollenbeck (Stan was a former coach at U of M) who put the races on for 2 or 3 years in a slightly different format and then handed it off to MRTC starting after the 1998 series when they were having their 1st child. Seems like they put on 2 or 3 races at shorter distances (several at Orgill Golf Course in Millington and at the soccer fields at Freeman Park in Bartlett) and then partnered with MRTC on the 10K at Shelby Farms the last year or 2 that they did it. Breakaway was their only sponsor and their shirts were more of a shoe brand sponsored theme more so than an actual race shirt.
In mid-1998, Harry Scott was president of MRTC and asked Rob Hunter to be the Race Director by promising to help by ordering the 1999 Winter Series shirts. That year, they were very plain with a small Winter Series logo over the left chest area. Rob worked with Bluff City Sports on the shirts starting with the 2000 series. Lizabeth Cartwright worked alongside Rob on several race locations during the 1st 3 or 4 years. Since her husband was into motocross, they tried out several pretty rugged venues before gravitating to the mountain bike trails. She also worked with Rob on results, the points scheme, etc. Stan & Lauren’s venues were more traditional X-country on grass. It was Harry’s desire that the series be an all metric distance series.
After paying all the bills in 1999, MRTC had about $2,000 left over and that became the scholarship fund - which was later supplemented by course measurement fees. The total $160,000 awarded to date (as of May 2014) has been mostly via the Winter Series.
In 2010, Michele Weir accepted the Race Director position and shadowed Rob Hunter during that race season to learn the ins and outs. In 2011, the race shirt was changed up a bit from the traditional solid color. In 2013, Michele changed the Winter Cross Country Series name to the "Frank Horton Memorial Winter Off-Road Race Series" to better represent the mostly trail running aspect of the series. The name change also polarized the series with the ever popular "E.J. Goldsmith Jr. Memorial Road Race Series", to reflect that the club offered both on and off-road racing events.
Kevin Raney took over the series in 2017. Within his years as Race Director, he directed that 50% of the income from the series go to the Memphis Youth Athletics to support young runners in the Memphis area. He also moved the location of the 5k from Stanky Creek in Bartlett to WC Johnson Park in Collierville. Kevin is passing the RD baton to Steve Spakes for the 2020 Winter Off Road Series.